Mali was a trading empire that flourished in West Africa from the 13th to the 16th century. The Mali empire developed from the state of Kangaba, after the civilization of Ghana collapsed, on the Upper Niger River, and is said to have been founded before 1000 AD. The Malinke people who were in Kangaba acted as middlemen in the gold trade during the later period of ancient Ghana. Their dislike of the ruler’s harsh but ineffective rule caused the Malinke people to revolt, and in 1230 Sundiata, the brother of the previous ruler, won against the his brother, and Mali was formed.
In extending Mali’s rule beyond the Kangaba’s area, Sundiata set a precedent for following emperors. Imperial armies took the gold-bearing lands of Bondu and Bambuk to the south, the Diara in the northwest, and gained more land along the Niger to Lac Débo. Under Mansa Musa, Mali rose to the height of its power. He controlled the lands of the Middle Niger, and gained more land in the trading cities of Timbuktu and Gao, and imposed his rule on such south Saharan cities in the regions of the salt deposits to the north. He extended the eastern boundaries of his empire as far as the Hausa people, and to the west he invaded Takrur. In Egypt, and elsewhere he sent ambassadors on his return from a pilgrimage to Mecca (1324) to establish Egyptian scholars in both Timbuktu and Gao.
By the 14th century the Dyula, or Wangara, as the Muslim traders of Mali came to be called, were active throughout West Africa. Malis success, however, actually contributed to it’s decline. The empire outgrew its political and military strength, and Gao rebelled (c. 1400), then the Tuareg seized Walata and Timbuktu (1431). The Mossi began to harass their Mali. By about 1550 Mali had ceased to be important as a political power.
When drawing for civilizations at the beginning of the year, picking Mali struck me with surprise. Not only did I not know where Mali was, but the only thing I actually knew about it was that there was an emperor called Mansa Musa from Timbuktu, and even then, I only knew that from a song parody that a history teacher did on YouTube. When you approach people and ask “What do you know about Mali?” they might respond with things like “Where?”, or some people will ask “Who?”. By getting a culture I knew almost nothing about, I was glad and also upset. Upset in the fact that I would have to do more research, and glad in the sense that I could learn about something I didn’t know. Some things that surprised me were the fact that Mali was a very huge trading civilization, and played a huge part in the time period that it was at its highest point. This surprised me because most books tended to focus more on the places well known today, like Egypt, during that time, but Mali played a more important part during that time, but it still not as well known. In the culture, I wish I could’ve experienced one of the markets they had, as they seem very different, and it would be phenomenal to just see all the culture.
When looking for pictures for the postcard project, I very heavily used one of the online resources provided for us. I ended up finding more than 5 pictures that I liked, so I figured I could use some for the scrapbook project. When thinking of my postcards, I wanted them to all have a different sort of category, so when choosing pictures, they were already sorted into different things like landscape, fashion, etc. The pictures I chose all stuck out to me either by being so unique and different from the cultures I know, or they showed the true beauty of Mali, something everyone should see. The final pictures I decided on were ones that I thought represented parts of Mali well, and were also appealing.